SRS stands for Sex Reassignment Surgery. Nowadays, it is also called Gender Confirming Surgery. Perhaps, I use the older term because I am used to it, but I also like how it speaks to what is specifically being done in the surgery: the genitals/sex of the patient are being altered, or reassigned.
On March 25, Julie and I sat with Dr. Sidhbh (rhymes with “five”) Gallagher, who last year took a position with IU Health for the purpose of providing surgery for transgender folks.
As you might have guessed from her first name, Dr. Gallagher is from Ireland. If that were not known before meeting her, the lovely accent gives her away. Combined with a friendly demeanor, nice sense of humor, and professional conduct, Dr. Gallagher made a very good impression on us.
At University College Dublin, she graduated in the top 3% of her class. As she got into practicing her craft, she found a desire to specialize in something. Why transgender surgeries? I asked. Her reasons were a combination of its being a delicate surgery, an area in need of surgeons, and her admiration for transgender people striving to live complete lives. She gave me the impression that she likes a challenge, and to rise to it.
According to the nurse who did my pre-visit check-up and has witnessed some minor surgeries performed by Dr. G, she is an artist of a surgeon. As the doctor led us through a step-by-step presentation of the surgery, her concern was obvious that she strives for excellence in both the physical and cosmetic aspects of SRS.
If Dr. G had not come to Indy, I would have had to go to Ann Arbor, to the University of Michigan hospital, for my surgery, as they were the only place in our insurance network. With her arrival, I was curious if there would be enough work for Dr. G in Indy—she does other surgeries, too, including top surgery for trans men—and was pleased that she has veritably been swamped with work.
Two things stand before me, which mean that my surgery will likely take place this autumn. The time frame is not all bad as it gives me ample time to ensure that I am ready and, indeed, want this surgery. Don’t read that as my having doubts. Read it that I take this with the utmost seriousness.
The first is the aforementioned insurance. I have one more thing to accomplish before my claim may be submitted. The WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) standards require a person be on HRT for at least a year (I am well past that) and have two endorsements from a therapist. I got my first endorsement in February, that I have passed the Real Life Test of living in my desired gender. I now need to see another therapist for the second approval. Since I already have one endorsement, this should happen in only one session, in which the therapist will cover the important aspects of transitioning, and hear how I have done and what I have accomplished. Yesterday, I secured an appointment with a man who sounded very nice on the phone.
The other item is sensitive in nature—and that is a bit of a pun. Since the skin of the penis shaft is used to form the vagina, it has to be free of hair. Thus, I have to have the same electrolysis for that as I am having on my face. Barb the Impaler, my friendly electrologist, has done this work on a number of trans women. I once had her give me a few sample zaps. Oh, gravy—this is going to be so much fun!
Because hair grows at different stages—not all hairs are growing all the time—even if Barb could clear the area in a few weeks, I would need to wait several more weeks for dormant hairs to become active so that they can be removed. A person does not want any hairs missed. Should any not be permanently removed, and they grow inside the new vagina, it is painful.
Since I receive the question often, I will answer it here: Why do I want SRS?
For me, this surgery is as basic as any human desiring a body which matches her self-image. I understand how profound it is to alter one’s genitals, yet it is for me the same and as important as the person who has corrective or reconstructive surgery of any kind, on any part of the body.
For cisgender people—those whose mind/gender and body/sex match—this all seems so odd, to want such a drastic change. For we trans folks, who have not enjoyed the blessing of our gender and sex matching, it is just plain wonderful, to finally enjoy peace of mind, to finally have brain and body match, to finally not have to spend so much time on ourselves because we are hurting so badly, that we might be the whole, healthy, productive people that we long to be.
I have come a long way. Wow, is that an understatement! I look back over my life, and especially the past three years, and I shake my head over all that has taken place; all that I have accomplished. “Mind numbing” is not an overstatement.
Yet, here I am. And, best of all, the love my Lord Jesus has for me is the most vivid as it has ever been in my life. That I am able to shine Christ in my life, how I live and in my writing, is the best thing that could happen. In this, I rejoice and praise His Holy Name, that He is with me in this, just as He is with me in everything.